All paper session speakers at the 2022 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference (PPRC) in Chicago in October expressed similar views on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the waste paper market. , the market has not yet reached the lower end of the price cycle.
The most noticeable impact is seen in old corrugated carton (OCC) pricing, which plunged to $88 per ton in the three months since July. According to Fastmarkets RISI, the national average OCC price in October 2021 will be $164 per tonne, compared to $38 per tonne in October, while regions across the United States will increase prices from $35 to $45 per tonne starting in September. decreased to pulp and paper week For October 5th.
“In North America, the market was incredibly frenetic a few months ago, but now we’re seeing a bit of a correction,” said Vincent Leung, principal at New York-based Afrai Management Consulting. “That’s slowing down the demand for recovered paper—OCC [and] Mixed paper, more specifically.
According to Leon, the market correction this year is mainly due to two factors. The decline in waste paper consumption in the domestic market and the rapid growth the market experienced during the e-commerce boom of COVID-19. He said packaging plants are taking downtime, internal inventory levels are rising and e-commerce is slowing, “creating a negative pricing environment in the domestic market.
“We are talking about a slowing economy, a potential recession, some trade-specific struggles and high logistics costs. [and a] strong US dollar [U.S. dollar]— unfortunately, this is going to go on for a while, ”said Leon. “I don’t see much improvement in the next six months.”
Johnny Newsome, director of global mill supply and trade sales for Sonoco, a packaging manufacturer based in Hartsville, South Carolina, and on the PPRC’s Mill Buyers Panel, said the uncertainty of the pandemic over the past two years has made it worse than it is today.
“Within the months of COVID, mills [were] Categorized as “required” [and] I run hard when other businesses shut down,” he said. “[Recovered fiber] Supplies began to dry up. Prices jumped.Worried about securing supply [and] supply availability. There were many uncertainties. ”
Newsom said Sonoco’s 20 recycling facilities have factories around the U.S. (Sonoco and Others) said they have thousands of tons in stock to ship to.
“We had to increase and then bounced back a little bit and rose again in 2021,” he said. I think we are in a very tough market today.”
Fellow speakers on the Mill Buyers Panel — Bill Theado, Director of Group Textile Procurement for Greif, a packaging manufacturer based in Ohio, Delaware, and VP of Supply Chain for Kingsey Falls, Quebec-based Cascades Stephane Dube reported having a similar struggle. Offer.
“Finding fiber was easy during the last two years of preparation because it was a matter of price, you just paid what you had to pay to get supply,” says Theado. . “Today… factories are not running well, we have a lot of supply and buyers are really struggling to say no. It is hard to say no and it is damaging the supply. It’s worse than when
Dube adds:no export [longer] there. I think part of that is really because of COVID. Likewise, I think we were hovering over something unreal, but now we’re back to reality. [There were] There have been many changes in our demand that ultimately have had a big impact. ”
Leung said the market is likely to continue to experience a “low price environment” in the short term, but there are encouraging signs that more than 2 million tonnes of production capacity is expected in the US over the next 12 months. rice field. Projects include Cascades’ Bear Island conversion project in Ashland, Virginia, and his $13 million expansion of Greif, a Greenville County paper mill in South Carolina.
“This will boost some demand, and those factories recycled-[content] Containerboards are very cost-competitive,” says Leon. “The market is hungry for lightweight packaging solutions, and the value proposition of these factories in terms of being able to produce lightweight packaging is actually far superior to traditional virgin-based factories. There is a silver lining…We are not at the end of the low price cycle, but long-term fundamentals are good and we expect prices to rebound to above-normal levels.”